The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card is a popular credit card with no annual fee and an expansive, though complicated, rewards program that allows you to redeem accumulated points for virtually anything: gift cards, travel, general merchandise, cash, direct purchases made with several major partners (including Amazon), and more. It earns points at a moderate rate, favoring dining and entertainment over other spending categories. Points are most valuable when redeemed for gift cards, and usually somewhat less valuable when redeemed for general merchandise and cash.
Citi ThankYou Preferred competes with some other cash back credit cards, restaurant credit cards, and general travel rewards credit cards. Some do not charge annual fees, such as Chase Freedom, Amex EveryDay, and Discover it Chrome. Others do charge annual fees, ranging from less than $50 to approximately $200, including Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95), Amex EveryDay Preferred ($95), Citi ThankYou Premier ($95), Premier Rewards Gold from American Express ($195), and the Santander Bravo MasterCard ($49).
- Sign-up Bonus: When you spend at least $1,000 in purchases within three months of opening your account, you get 15,000 bonus ThankYou points. That’s worth up to $150 when redeemed for travel, gift cards, and more.
- ThankYou Rewards: The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card earns an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment. Citi defines entertainment merchants as sports promoters (including stadiums), theater promoters (including theater box offices), movie theaters, video rental stores, record stores, amusement parks, museums, and tourist attractions. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
- ThankYou Point Redemptions: You can redeem ThankYou points for a wide range of items, including gift cards, general merchandise, travel and transportation (with no blackout dates), cash, and more. Gift card redemptions typically require 1 point per $0.01 in face value, and therefore usually offer the best value for your points. By contrast, general merchandise redemptions typically value ThankYou points between $0.005 and $0.01, and cash redemptions value ThankYou points at $0.005 apiece. You can also use your ThankYou points to pay for purchases made directly with select online merchants, including Amazon (at a value of $0.005 to less than $0.01 apiece), Live Nation, and Expedia (hotels only). Redemption minimums vary by redemption method, but typically start at 2,500 points ($25 value) for gift cards and 10,000 points ($50 value) for cash. It’s worth noting that Citi’s higher-end credit cards, including Citi ThankYou Premier, allow you to transfer ThankYou points to participating frequent traveler programs, such as Hilton Honors – often at 1-to-1 ratios or better. However, Citi ThankYou Preferred doesn’t have this perk.
- Introductory APR: This card comes with a 12-month 0% APR introductory promotion on purchases and balance transfers.
- Important Fees: There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount, balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5% of the transferred amount. Late and returned payments both cost $35.
- Citi Private Pass: Citi ThankYou Preferred comes with access to Citi Private Pass, a perks program that offers special access to a host of entertainment (such as musical performance pre-sales), experiences (such as tee times at private golf clubs), and events (such as discounted Taste of the Nation celebrity chef events).
- Additional Benefits: Citi ThankYou Preferred has some additional benefits, including complimentary trip cancellation insurance, up to $1,500 per year; complimentary loss and damage insurance on rental cars charged in full to your card; Citi Price Rewind, which reimburses you up to $300 per item and $1,200 per year when Citi finds a lower price on a purchased item within 60 days of purchase; and complimentary extended warranties on purchased items with original warranties of 5 years or less.
- Credit Required: This card requires excellent credit. If you have any notable dings on your credit history, you are unlikely to qualify.
- No Annual Fee. Citi ThankYou Preferred doesn’t charge an annual fee. That’s a big perk relative to other popular rewards credit cards, including fellow Citi cards such as Citi ThankYou Premier ($95 annual fee), as well as similar non-Citi cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee).
- No Earning Caps or Rotating Categories. Citi ThankYou Preferred doesn’t have any earning caps or rotating categories. The favored dining and entertainment categories always stay the same, and there’s never a limit to the number of points you can earn in any category. By contrast, Chase Freedom has rotating categories that can be confusing to keep track of and annoying to activate every three months, while Discover it Chrome puts a $1,000 quarterly spending cap on its 2x points restaurant bonus.
- Good Intro APR Promotion. Citi ThankYou Preferred has a 12-month 0% APR promotion for purchases and balance transfers. That’s great news for new cardholders who need to make large upfront purchases or transfer high-interest balances from other card accounts.
- Great Fringe Benefits. For a no-annual-fee rewards card, Citi ThankYou Preferred has an unusual array of fringe benefits. Citi Private Pass and Citi Price Rewind are particularly useful, especially for cardholders who frequently make big-ticket purchases or pursue sought-after entertainment opportunities. Private Pass and Price Rewind lack analogues at many competing cards and card issuers.
- Cash Redemptions Aren’t a Good Value. Citi ThankYou Preferred’s cash redemption option values ThankYou points at just $0.005 apiece. That’s just half the value of cash redemptions with Chase Freedom, Discover it Chrome, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, and other popular cards.
- Redemptions System Is Complicated. Citi ThankYou Preferred’s redemption scheme is more complicated than it needs to be. Redemption minimums and point values vary depending on how you redeem, creating a confusing tableau. If you’re serious about maximizing this card’s value, you probably need to spend a few hours exploring the ThankYou Rewards portal and reading the fine print.
- Only Dining and Entertainment Purchases Earn Bonus Points. Citi ThankYou Preferred’s bonus categories are somewhat limited: You only earn 2x points on purchases made at restaurants and entertainment venues. While this is fine if you dine out and go to shows often, the majority of your spending probably falls into other categories. If you want a card that provides more equitable rewards on a wider range of spending categories, consider Citi Double Cash (1% cash back on all initial spending and an additional 1% cash back when you pay your statement bill) or Capital One Quicksilver (1.5% cash back on all spending).
- Charges a Penalty APR. Citi ThankYou Preferred charges penalty interest on past-due balances. This is potentially costly for cardholders who occasionally miss payments, especially in light of the fact that Citi reserves the right to charge penalty interest indefinitely. Some popular alternatives, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred, don’t charge penalty interest.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee. That’s unfortunate for cardholders who want to rack up points while traveling abroad. Some competing cards, including Premier Gold Rewards from American Express ($195 annual fee) and Citi ThankYou Premier, don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
According to Citi, cardholders of the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card can “redeem ThankYou points for almost anything.” If you find that simple concept appealing, this credit card should be high on your list.
On the other hand, if maximizing the value of your accumulated rewards points is important to you, there are better options than Citi ThankYou Preferred. Whereas this card’s ThankYou points can be worth as little as $0.005 apiece when redeemed, some competing cards set the floor for their point values at $0.01.
In other words, those cards repay you twice as fast for every $1 you spend. And it’s worth remembering that, when it comes to credit card rewards, cash is king – since you can use it any way you wish, no other reward is as versatile.